What James' deal, now official, means to Seattle

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Seahawks' expected deal with running back Edgerrin James has been signed. The one-year deal features no guaranteed money, but James can push the value to $2 million if he reaches incentives. The writing was indeed on the wall for T.J. Duckett, who received his release to make room for James on the roster.

I think James' presence leaves the Seahawks better protected from serious injury to starter Julius Jones. James would be better suited than Duckett to take over as the primary running back for multiple games. He has done it repeatedly and consistently. James is better than Duckett as a receiver and blocker. He is a smart player with the ability to read defenses and anticipate situations. If he were a dynamic running back at this late stage of his career, he wouldn't be signing a one-year deal with no guarantees. But after watching James help the Cardinals during the playoffs last season, I do think he still has something to offer.

The decision to release Duckett suggests the current Seattle coaching staff saw a deterioration in what the veteran runner offered. General manager Tim Ruskell, coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp were with the Falcons when Duckett played there. Ruskell pursued Duckett two years ago before signing him before last season. I do not think the Seahawks would pay $4 million in guaranteed money to Duckett and then release him after one season without having serious concerns about his abilities.

We might never know if this was a panic move after the Seattle running game faltered during the first two weeks of the preseason. Duckett is unlikely to command a prominent role with another team. As a result, he might never get a prolonged chance to prove the Seahawks made a mistake.

For James, conditioning will be key. He has not participated in minicamps or training camp. If he's in shape and ready to go, he can help this team. If he's on the verge of breaking down, well, that's a chance the Seahawks were willing to take.